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Ronald Auerbach
Software Training and Consulting

702 Fifth Avenue South, # 8
Kent, WA   98032-6026
Phone: 206-355-8304     Fax: 253-813-2452
Previous Career Tips of the Week

Date Topic
6/18/2001 Salary
6/4/2001 What are your strengths and weaknesses?
5/21/2001 Tell me about yourself
5/14/2001 What to do while waiting for your interview?
5/7/2001 Which type of resume should I use?
4/30/2001 Using job fairs to "scope out" your competition
4/24/2001 GPA on my resume?

June 18, 2001


During an interview, one of the hardest questions to handle concerns salary.   Ask too much and you probably won't get the job.   Ask too little and you get short-changed.   So, what should you do?   Take two things into consideration:
  1. It is obviously important to realize that employers are most concerned about their bottom-line: how much will it cost us to hire you?
  2. But equally, or in some cases even more important, they're also testing you on your researching skills: do you have any idea as to what jobs like this might pay?
Employers know that you may not know exactly what they're willing to pay, but they also know that there are ways for applicants to get some idea as to acceptable salary ranges.

Bottom-line: do your homework first!

June 4, 2001

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Next to tell me about yourself, this is perhaps the second most popular interview question. What does the interviewer really want to know?

An interviewer wants to see 2 things:

  1. Can you admit that you're not perfect, and
  2. Can you do an honest assessment of yourself
Now the big mistake that most applicants make is thinking that the interviewer is more interested in hearing about your strengths and what you can do for them. Therefore, most applicants basically say they have no faults, and focus merely on their strengths.

However, with this question, an interviewer is more interested in hearing about your negatives! While nobody really wants to admit that they're not perfect, what an interviewer is trying to assess is whether you have any major faults which would preclude you from doing the job for which you're interviewing.

The key in handling this question is to turn your weakness into a strength! If you can successfully accomplish this, then you've passed!

If you want to learn how to do this, please contact us and we'll be glad to help!

May 21, 2001

Tell me about yourself?

This is perhaps one of the most basic interview questions, and perhaps one of the hardest to answer.

The reason why it's so tough is because you have to really think about what the interviewer is trying to ascertain. And that's the real key to taking any interview: determining exactly what the interviewer wants!

Some people just start talking and speak about their education, work, and interests. Is that wrong? Not necessarily. But one problem with just talking is that you might say the wrong thing, or not say what the interviewer had wanted. So how do you know what to say?

Well, one approach to this question is to simply ask the interviewer what he or she would like to hear. This way, you can tailor your answer around that area. And that's a good technique! But sometimes, an interviewer won't tell you and, instead, tells you to speak about whatever you want.

The key is: What does the interviewer really want?

Answer: You are being tested on several levels. You are 1st being judged as to whether you can speak clearly, and 2nd, on your ability to organize your thoughts. What you say really isn't overly important, but how you say it is!

Make sure you're brief--no more than 5 minutes at the most! And be sure to get across your background and why you're right for the job!

Do that, and you've passed this test!

May 14, 2001

What to do while waiting for your interview?

So there you are, waiting quietly in the reception area for your interview to begin. What do you do? Read a magazine? Information about the company? Twiddle your thumbs? Does it really matter?

Boy does it matter!!! This is the perfect opportunity to blow it long before your interview even officially begins! Why you ask?

Simple. While you're waiting, the Receptionist and anybody else in the office who sees you is making a mental note of how you look, and how you're behaving. Make the wrong impression here, and the interviewer will be forewarned. We have know many who have been turned down for jobs because they didn't "seem quite right" while waiting.

For example, one applicant walked around the lobby area looking around. Now you might think that's not so bad, but what made a negative impression here, was that he seemed to be peaking into cubicals--something you definitely don't do when nobody knows you!

So, what should you do? The answer is simple, relax, get your resume and interviewing materials in order, look at some company information to familarize yourself, watch "from a distance" without being totally noticable. In other words, look out of the corners of your eyes to get an idea of office environment.

For example, if people seem to be running around, the office environment may be hectic. If people are dressed casually, then you know, you probably won't need a suit and tie.

Now, question for you: who's the most important person there? Answer: the Receptionist! Because he or she is the first one to meet you and observe. You can watch him or her, without really being noticable and even make some periodic conversation. Shows you're personable and how well you speak and interact. But don't be distracting and take him or her away from work. Can make quick comments and even say that you know what it's like because you've been there yourself.

Bottom-line, be observant, and show the Receptionist that you know how to behave in a business environment, and can "fit in" with people by being pleasant. Do that, and you're 1/2 way there!

May 7, 2001

Which type of resume should I use?

There are 3 kinds of resumes:
  1. Chronological
  2. Functional
  3. Combination
The Chronological or traditional resume lists each of your work experiences by date, with your most recent job listed first and progressing backwards in time, and includes the employer's name, your job title, dates employed, and job responsibilities. Most hiring managers actually prefer this type of resume because they can very easily match your skills with the appropriate job to determine how long you've used them and whether they are relevant to the position you're seeking. The main emphasis for this type of resume is on work experience.

However, a few potential problems might be that you don't lots of experience, posess skills you didn't use on the job, and haven't used those skills very long or often. Not to worry though because there are alternatives: the functional and combination resumes.

The Functional resume is similar to the chronological, but it completely leaves out your job responsibilities. Instead, it adds a section which highlights the skills you actually posess, thus making the main focus your abilities, rather than your work experience. This is the reason why it is used most often for those with limited or no work experience. It says: just because I didn't work very much doesn't mean I don't have skills you could use.

This type of resume is gaining more acceptance, but the main problems for many hiring managers lie in their inability to determine exactly how you gained those skills and how long you've used them.

Well, lets assume the hiring manager wants to know those missing details. What does he or she have to do? Call you for an interview!

The Combination resume is a cross between the Chronological and Functional because it includes the skills as a separate section, along with selected highlights of your job responsibilities. This resume offers a little of both: focuses attention on your abilities, while at the same time, showcases your accomplishments on the job.

It should be noted that many employers find this one to be "modern," and it generally used by those wishing to focus on both the skills he or she posses and selected job accomplishments for which he or she is proud.

THE BOTTOM-LINE: Use the resume which matches the employer's needs best, and ALWAYS have a chronological just in case!

April 30, 2001

Using job fairs to "scope out" your competition

To most people, a job fair is nothing more than an opportunity to meet with potential employers, handout your resume, and get information about their companies and available jobs.

However, they can be much more, that is, if you know how to "work" them.

For example, they are the perfect place to "scope" out your competition in advance because they're right there in front of you.   You'll see how they dress, behave, and handle questions posed by the employers.

And if you pay real careful attention and "easedrop" from a distance, you'll get a sense of their backgrounds: education, experience, and skills.   You'll also have the opportunity to hear the questions they ask, the ones asked by the employers, and their responses.   Play your cards right and you'll make the better impression!

April 24, 2001

GPA on my resume?

Our premier tip will focus on the question of whether to include your GPA or grade-point-average on your resume.

While there are some experts who believe this is a good idea because it can show how smart you are, WE believe you should never do it!

The reason is because

  1. Someone else might have an average higher than yours, and
  2. Someone might have an equal or even lower average, but from a school perceived to be better.
For example, suppose you have a 3.8 average from UCLA.   That's pretty good! Right?   Well, there may be another applicant with a 3.4 from Yale.   Which school is tougher? Which is considered more "ivy league?" Yale!   Some might say that the 3.4 from Yale is equal or even better than your 3.8 from UCLA, at which time you're forced to defend yourself.

DON'T put yourself in this position.   Grades are essentially unimportant in the working world outside of academia!

Whether you're an "A" or a "D" student only counts when you're going on for more schooling.   But there are plenty of people who have failed courses, or even dropped-out, only to go on to succeed in their professional careers.

Bottom-line: What counts most is the combination of your work experience, education (what you studied and where), and any personal qualities relevant to the job!   NOT your grades!

Don't forget to check back next week!

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